by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
I've always been on the fence about director Ridley Scott. On one hand, he's done some true modern masterpieces: Alien, Blade Runner and possibly Gladiator. Then again, he's also the guy behind crap like Legend, 1492 and Hannibal, to name a few. His feminist actioner Thelma & Louise falls somewhere in between. It starts off strong, with wronged women Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) on the run after shooting a would-be rapist. On the road, they discover themselves; a young Brad Pitt even shows up as a drifter who gives Thelma the first good sex of her life. Then, as the law closes in, the movie just completely falls apart, leading to a much-debated ending that I found to be quite the cop-out. Of course the performances are compelling, the script by Callie Khouri at times quite funny (when not proselytizing), and the direction everything you've come to expect from Scott.
Unstoppable, according to the opening credits, is apparently “inspired” by true events. I don't remember reading anything in the news recently about runaway trains the “size of the Chrysler building” full of toxic chemicals chugging headlong into Scranton and the two selfless hero conductors who'll do anything to stop it, but, hey, we've got Charlie Sheen quotes on Twitter to read. It's easy to miss, I'm sure. Either way, it's still a remarkably fun, tense thriller and Denzel Washington, as the elder of the hapless engineers, milks it for everything it's worth, hilariously edging into Sam Jackson/Snakes on a Plane territory at times. He's clearly having a good time in such an unchallenging “paycheck, please” role. As per anything directed by action-meister Tony Scott (younger brother of Ridley), the trains barrels into everything in its path, creating multiple satisfying explosions and wonderful disaster clichés galore. Cheap, disposable excitement at its finest!
It's always good to see Margot Kidder back on the screen, even if it is a straight-to-DVD movie. She gives a bravura performance as Beth, an unstable smothering mother, in Love at First Kill, a fair-to-middling thriller. She's obsessively trying to protect her son from a smoldering next-door temptress (Lyne Renee) who somehow has a connection to the Beth's murderous past, which her son has recurring nightmares about. Was it real, or is it in his head? The out-of-nowhere mind-bending ending somewhat answers these questions, but ultimately just leaves more, which, in the context of the whole movie, almost makes no sense. There's also a needless subplot involving a stereotypical hen-picking neighbor, her cheating husband and a hilarious rattlesnake-murder that pad things out. But every time Kidder is on screen, she reminds you of why she was poised to be the next big thing in the ’70s, which, sadly, never really panned out.